Review: The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye by David Lagercrantz

Title: The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye (Millennium #5)
Author: David Lagercrantz
Rating: ★★½
Summary: Lisbeth Salander has never been able to uncover the most telling facts of her traumatic childhood, the secrets that might finally, fully explain her to herself. Now, when she sees a chance to uncover them once and for all, she enlists the help of Mikael Blomkvist, the editor of the muckraking, investigative journal Millennium. And she will let nothing stop her…

Lagercrantz certainly tries to live up to Stieg Larsson’s writing, but so far neither The Girl in the Spider’s Web nor The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye live up to the breathless anticipation I felt while reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (even after I’d already seen the movie). A lot of things happen in this installment – not all of which seem very reasonable – and it comes off feeling more of a Mikael Blomkvist story than a Lisbeth Salander one. Even though I wasn’t in love with Larsson’s writing style, his books didn’t feel so contrived, the action always revved up to eleven.

However, as long as Salander lives on in some way, I will keep reading her story – but the over-heightened plot (which almost bordered on bland) and the ‘wtf was that??’ ending just proves that Lagercrantz lacks the je ne sais quoi which made Larsson so famous.

Top Ten: Books Every Fan of Kick-Ass Ladies Should Read

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted at The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme was ten books every x should read.

My top ten list is a two-fer: books to read if you like kick-ass ladies AND want to start a series. (Because, honestly, who doesn’t??)


Top Ten: Series I Haven’t Yet Finished

logo-TopTenTuesdayTop Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted at The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme was completed series I haven’t yet finished.

Some of these series might not be completely finished yet, but I’ve listed them because they include published works of which I have not read.


2B Trilogy by Ann Aguirre

Read: As Long as You Love Me (#2)
Not read: I Want It That Way (#1), The Shape of My Heart (#3)


All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness

Read: A Discovery of Witches (#1)
Not read: Shadow of Night (#2), The Book of Life (#3)


Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson

Read: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (#1), The Girl Who Played with Fire (#2), The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest (#3)
Not read: The Girl in the Spider’s Web (#4) (I am very, very excited about this one!)


Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Read: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (#1)
Not read: Hollow City (#2), Library of Souls (#3)


New York Blades by Deirdre Martin

Read: Body Check (#1), Fair Play (#2), Total Rush (#3), The Penalty Box (#4), Chasing Stanley (#5), Just a Taste (#6), Power Play (#7), Icebreaker (#8)
Not read: Breakaway (#9), Hip Check (#10)


Oxford Time Travel by Connie Willis

Read: Blackout (#3), All Clear (#4)
Not read: Fire Watch (#0.5), Doomsday Book (#1), To Say Nothing of the Dog (#2)


Parasol Protectorate by Gail Carriger

Read: Soulless (#1)
Not read: Changeless (#2), Blameless (#3), Heartless (#4), Timeless (#5)


Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

Read: Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood (#1-2)
Not read: Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return (#3-4)


Robert Langdon by Dan Brown

Read: Angels & Demons (#1), The Da Vinci Code (#2), The Lost Symbol (#3)
Not read: Inferno (#4)


Undead / Queen Betsy by MaryJanice Davidson

Read: Undead and Unwed (#1), Undead and Unemployed (#2), Undead and Unappreciated (#3), Undead and Unreturnable (#4), Undead and Unpopular (#5), Undead and Uneasy (#6), Undead and Unworthy (#7), Undead and Unwelcome (#8), Undead and Unfinished (#9), Undead and Undermined (#10), Undead and Unstable (#11)
Not read: Undead and Underwater (#11.5), Undead and Unsure (#12), Undead and Unwary (#13), Undead and Unforgiven (#14)

Review: The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson

5060378Title: The Girl Who Played with Fire
Author: Stieg Larsson
Rating: ★★
Summary: Mikael Blomkvist, crusading publisher of the magazine Millennium, has decided to run a story that will expose an extensive sex trafficking operation. On the eve of its publication, the two reporters responsible for the article are murdered, and the fingerprints found on the murder weapon belong to his friend, the troubled genius hacker Lisbeth Salander. Blomkvist, convinced of Salander’s innocence, plunges into an investigation. Meanwhile, Salander herself is drawn into a murderous game of cat and mouse, which forces her to face her dark past.

Here’s the thing about Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy – the characters are well-formed and the plots are engaging and suspenseful, but the execution is terrible. I stated in my video for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo that Larsson’s writing was unnecessarily specific, something which not only completely grated my nerves but also forced me out of the story (if just to form a “UGH. WTF.” reaction). In writing The Girl Who Played with Fire, however, Larsson either stopped with the incessant descriptions or else I stopped noticing – because, again, engaging and suspenseful plot. Does this mean Larsson got better at writing? That someone like an editor stepped in and said, “Hey, you kind of need to stop”? Did he just overly explain everything he needed to (overly) explain in The Girl Who Played with Fire?

I don’t know – and, frankly, don’t really care. To me, the Millennium trilogy is a great, fun three-part read but not necessarily something I’m going to love years down the road or even re-visit. I’ve seen the Swedish adaptation of the trilogy – so I totally knew what was really happening or going to happen, both within one book but also throughout the series – but I was still so unbelievably engrossed in the novel’s plot and read the last fourth or so in one sitting. Even if Larsson has his quirks, there’s something to be said for nail-biting suspense and engaged reading. It’s very hard to go into a horror flick or thriller knowing where the scares or adrenaline-pumping sequences are going to be and STILL jump out of your seat or have your heart race. That takes considerable talent – and, as I keep mentioning, Larsson has that talent – I just wish he could have perfected it a bit before he passed away.

All in all, The Girl Who Played with Fire is a fantastic example of a psychological suspense-thriller (with some good old mystery thrown in). As much as I complain, it has way less annoying quirks than The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and, in effect, you can read the former without reading the latter, but I would highly recommend you don’t. You learn things in Millennium’s first installment that you’re expected to know in its second, and, like J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, Larsson’s books (including the trilogy’s conclusion, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest) are stand-alone stories but fit snugly within a larger narrative, exploring the lives and relationships of the same characters over multiple years. The Girl Who Played with Fire is worth a looksie – but remember to do your homework.